White House ONDCP Director Michael Botticelli Hosting Community Forums To Address Opioid Epidemic

By John Lavitt 12/22/15

Director Botticelli continues to make strides in nationally addressing the opioid epidemic. 

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Michael Botticelli, the Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Director has been hosting community forums across the country to address the opioid epidemic. The first community forum was held in Oklahoma on December 16, and the forums will continue into 2016. The community forums are focusing on best practices and evidence-based initiatives to prevent and treat prescription drug abuse and heroin use. 

The forums are designed to continue the conversation that President Obama began in West Virginia in October, where he announced new public and private sector efforts to address the opioid overdose epidemic. New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that overdose deaths associated with opioids increased significantly across the country in 2014. The preliminary data for 2015 show that the problem has gotten worse over the past year as heroin abuse has become more and more common.

“The President has made clear that the heroin and prescription opioid epidemic is a priority for this Administration,” said Director Botticelli. “We have tools that we know are effective in reducing drug use and overdose, like evidence-based prevention programs, prescription drug monitoring, medication-assisted treatment and the overdose reversal drug naloxone. The forums will highlight local examples of how States and communities are using these and other tools, so their efforts can serve as models for others. We have lost too many children, parents, friends, and neighbors to delay in making these tools available wherever they are needed.”

With more United States citizens now dying every year from drug overdoses than they do in motor vehicle crashes, the problem has become serious across the country. The 2014 Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data shows continued sharp increases in heroin-involved deaths and an emerging increase in deaths involving synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl. Earlier this year, DEA issued a nationwide alert on fentanyl, and CDC issued a health advisory on fentanyl with recommendations for public health departments, health care providers, first responders, and medical examiners and coroners.

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles with his beautiful wife, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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